nytheatre.com review by Kelly Aliano
November 7, 2008
There are a couple of great things about Lysistrata's Children, written, produced, and directed by Philip Suraci, that trump any potential production flaws there may be. These are: this piece is relevant to an issue that matters now, and it got kids, who are the only performers, thinking about that issue through one of the most powerful tools at our disposal—art.
The plot is based on the Greek comedy Lysistrata. This time, instead of Lysistrata leading the local women in a sex strike until their men agree to end the war, it is children who are refusing to show their parents any love until the adults agree to sign The Oath for Victory Over Violence. Throughout the first act, which is focused around Lindsay (the Lysistrata of her group of friends) and the other young people devising schemes to get their parents to do something to stop the war, there are various poetic, musical, and even experimental theatre-esque interludes. In these interludes, the young performers get the opportunity to reflect, in new and different ways, on current events and their implications.
The best of these non-narrative presentations opens the show; it is a parade of artistic renderings of great moments in American history—which all just so happen to be instances of war (my particular favorite was the young actors posing as the Iwo Jima memorial). The parade is a really poignant literal representation of a metaphor for American history; our heritage is, in many ways, a parade of violent episodes. After viewing the parade, Lindsay points out, "That's our history," with all the possible connotations of that statement available for the audience to consider.
I am very impressed with the depth of this production and I commend each student on the level of professionalism he/she brought to the work. These young people are speaking out, in clear and meaningful ways, about an issue that too many adults, even those with influence and power, too often ignore. This play would have had incredible value just as a learning exercise for the performers. Beyond this, however, the piece is relevant and significant for whomever views it. Kids should know about the realities of the world in which we live and should be aware of the role art can play in reflecting the issues of our time. In addition, art should continually confront its viewers with social and political concerns that need to be addressed.
These children remind us what we can do when we refuse to shy away from the situations that matter and insist on doing something to change them. Lysistrata's Children emphasizes how much every individual, including a child, can do, and the impact we can make when we all stand together and refuse to back down.